Last night’s American Idol served as yet another testament to the completely broken nature of this ridiculous 36-semifinalist setup. Most of the performances were, unfortunately, pretty bad—so lousy, in fact, that I felt for even the most off-pitch contestants, since this was pretty much their only shot to make any sort of impression on the American public and so many of them seemed completely cowed by the idea of being on the big stage. Well, at least Nick “Norman Gentle” Mitchell made his song his own, complete with Idol-specific lyrics. Rankings after the jump!
12. Jeanine Vailes. Third on the night, and her choice of Maroon 5′s “This Love” actually made me say out loud, “Who is picking these songs?!” (Simon agreed with me, at the very least.) So horribly screechy and awkward, I was wondering whether or not the band sabotaged her at the last minute by deciding to play in a different key.
11. Matt Giraud. The dueling pianist sang Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”—a song that Simon does not like, apparently—and said in the pre-roll that he was hoping to put “a soulful twist on a white-boy rock song.” Sure, one could say that he was hamstrung by the dime-store band backing him up (seriously, that string part sounded like it was fresh from a Holiday Inn down the street), but he apparently thought that “soulful” meant “a voice that’s slip-sliding all over the place,” because he was just bad. I liked him a lot in Hollywood, but this was just awful.
10. Jasmine Murray. A breathy, sorta-busted version of Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” that was overdone in every way except as far as pitch control went—she seemed unable to stay on one note. This girl kind of annoyed me despite Kara’s assertion that she’s “commercial,” and her choice of the grating “Love Song” only went further to solidify her irritating persona.
9. Matt Breitzke. The other blue-collar guy does another faceless rock-radio staple (this time, Tonic’s “If You Can Only See”).
8. Mishavonna Henson. First off, who sings a Train song on American Idol? Second, did anyone notice that the echo on her microphone was turned way up? Third, how bad were the backup singers on the “na, na, na na”? Maybe the best rejected contestants should join the band, a la Top Chef‘s “previous contestants as sous chefs” trickery.
7. Kai Kalama. A version of “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” that was fine—which, given last night’s dismal performances overall, meant that he was one of the better contestants—but nothing that I’ll remember once I hit “publish” on this post.
6. Allison Iraheta. Can we declare a moratorium on people singing “Alone”? Please? Her version had a bit of grit to it (and I loved her black Betsey Johnson-ish outfit) but it’s just becoming really hard to not automatically compare her to everyone else who’s performed this song so far. For some reason the judges really liked her (Randy even threw out the “only 16″ compliment!) but I was just not impressed.
5. Kris Allen. Apparently hoping to fall into the David Archuleta Inspirational Singer Slot, what with him performing “Man In The Mirror.” Alas, his time to move the masses will probably be short, because even though the judges liked him, I thought that his version started off wobbly enough for people to just not care. (Also, what was up with Simon pimping Danny Gokey’s alleged vocal skills during his critique of Kris? Am I going to have to start a “Gokey Pimpage Quotient” segment in all of these recaps or what?)
4. Nick Mitchell. Turned on the Norman Gentle persona for a tailored-to-Idol version of “And I Am Telling You.” Simon called it one of the most atrocious performances in the history of the show (um, hello, “Eight Days A Week”??), and in response, dude did a karate kick. A karate kick! Ranked as high as he is because everyone else below was either boring or lousy, and because I hope he makes it through just to drive the judges—OK, Simon—crazy. Or at least that he hooks up with Danny Noriega for a wacky YouTube sitcom.
3. Megan Joy Corkrey. Another over-Idoled song—this time, Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On”—but she actually gave it a little bit of oomph. It’s probably in part a testament to how lousy the night was that I’m putting a version of this chestnut so high, but she does have a pretty great personality, and it shone through in her performance. Plus she’s a font designer!
2. Jesse Langseth. A totally passable version of “Bette Davis Eyes” that was nearly sabotaged by the band being off-rhythm at the outset. I loved her asking Randy for clarification on what, exactly, “more” means in his statement “I just want more” (He meant range!) and the way she talked about how she picked the song in part because she liked its beat. (And Simon’s claim that she’s forgettable is kind of torpedoed by his love of Leona Lewis, no?)
1. Adam Lambert. The only contestant of the night who didn’t seem freaked out by the prospect of being on TV. His version of “Satisfaction,” despite a few sorta-cheesy bits, wiped the floor with everyone. (INCLUDING DANNY, GUYS. JUST SAYING.) I did giggle, though, at Randy referring to his style as “Steven Tyler meets Fall Out Boy meets Robert Pattinson meets My Chemical Romance.”
WHO I WOULD HAVE VOTED FOR: Nick, Jesse, and Adam.
WHO’S PROBABLY GOING TO WIN: Adam, Allison, and… oh, I don’t know. Maybe Jesse or Megan? Truth be told, I’d rather have both of them in there than Allison, but I suspect her youth will work in her favor.
REVEALING DIOGUARDISM OF THE NIGHT: To Jeanine: “So much about you is pretty. Thank God.”